Interim

Gratitude to God

Dear Friends,

The underlying theme of this September’s Genesis is gratitude - gratitude to God for bringing us all together … gratitude for the volunteers whose dedication to the common good adds so much vitality to this congregation … gratitude to the staff whose efforts support all that we do … gratitude for opportunities to do meaningful tasks by serving … gratitude for the beauty of this sacred space for which we are stewards … gratitude for challenges which arise from a greater vision … gratitude for prayers for our well-being that reflects God’s love for each of us.

September is a month for starting up or restarting activities, ministries, and programs after a summer pause. Starting is not instantaneous. Like an athlete or musician for whom warming up is necessary, we too are warming up as we regroup and make final plans for the fall. Please watch the weekly eGenesis especially in the coming weeks for additional information to welcome one and all to the startup for the year.

Of particular note is Sunday School, led by Melanie Hitchen and a dedicated group of teachers who continue what was begun last spring. The first classes are on September 15. The consensus of the teachers, who met to begin planning this year was that classes be held starting after Communion, at the end of the10:30 service and conclude at 12:15. Details will follow. The primary rationale for this timing was to allow families not to feel rushed to get to church by 9:15, to encourage everyone to participate in the primary activity of Sunday morning – the service of Holy Eucharist, and to take advantage of the coffee hour after the 10:30 service as a time for informal conversation. Coffee hours at Trinity Church work so well that I think this plan is well worth a try this fall. Trying new approaches and reviewing them as we go along is a benefit of an interim year. For now, please plan to bring your children and invite other children to participate.

We are also reviving the Adult Forums at 9:15, on most Sundays beginning on September 15. Vestry member Paul Coyer and I have been working on plans, and I have had numerous conversations with parishioners about possible topics. Watch eGenesis each week for details.

In the few months that remain of my Interim Ministry, I look forward to being with you for prayer, learning, and service.

We give thanks to God for the opportunity to be at Trinity Church in these exciting times.
Faithfully,
The Reverend Edward O. Miller, Jr.

Welcome to Summer

Dear Friends,

After all the excitement of a wonderful Stable Tour weekend, we move to a new month. Although June often seems to mark the beginning of a slower pace for the summer, this month is also a time of important activity. Our primary goal for the year is to prepare you for the next era of ministry with a new Rector. The Discernment Committee is working deliberately and thoughtfully sustained by the prayer we all say together each Sunday. They will present an update on their process at a Forum on Sunday, June 23, between the 8:00 and 10:30 am services. I hope you will stay after the early service or come early for the later service to hear from the committee and to ask questions.

During the summer, the Vestry and I will be planning for the fall and exploring ways to refine our efforts to be as effective as possible in leading the lively collaboration of volunteers and staff. I notice enthusiasm and dedication every day, and we seek to translate that energy into opportunities for newcomers and long-standing members to be engaged more deeply in the congregation.

The Vestry voted at the May meeting to elect Melissa Neal as our Delegate to Diocesan Convention and our Region and Becky Hoecker as the Alternate Delegate. We are grateful to them for serving in these important roles.

The other day, I received Mission Vouchers for the young people who were Confirmed on May 12. These vouchers are to be used before their 19th birthday to support mission experiences. The vouchers represent the interest in the people of the entire Diocese in the activities of our youth.

I plan to be away on two Sundays in June for weddings. I’m grateful to Jim Hammond for leading worship in my absence, and I am thankful daily for his friendship and wise counsel. The two Sundays I expect to be here are important because they direct us to the foundation of so much that defines us.

June 9, is Pentecost with the celebration of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the custom here for you to wear red to match the red on the altar. It is also the custom of the church to view this day, one of the seven feast days of the church year, as a time to renew our commitment to the mission of the church.

June 16, is Trinity Sunday, the only one of the seven feast days devoted to a doctrine. It is our special privilege to focus on the meaning of the day in the context of the name of our congregation. It is a Sunday to renew our commitment to the mission of the church through this particular church.

I look forward to June with you.

Faithfully,
The Reverend Edward O. Miller, Jr.

Welcome the Right Reverend Edwin F. Gulick

Dear friends,

Join us on Sunday, May 12, at 10:30 to welcome the Right Reverend Edwin F. Gulick for a service of Baptism and Confirmation as we support those being baptized and confirmed. Bishop Gulick is well known to us through his role as Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia and through his long-time family ties to this area and to Trinity Church. Bishop Gulick’s great-grandfather lived across the street in what is now the church-owned Gulick House. His great-grandfather practiced medicine there, and his grandfather was raised there. Currently a Visiting Bishop, he assists Bishop Goff with visitations twice a month.

It is our good fortune that Trinity Church has been chosen for one of his visitations. While Confirmation has a long and varied history, the central actions of confirmation have always been the laying on of hands and a prayer said by the bishop. Princess Elizabeth, who would become Queen Elizabeth I, was baptized and confirmed when she was three days old. During Elizabeth’s lifetime, however, confirmation was separated from baptism because it was associated with the age of reason. Confirmation became a moment for strengthening for Christian service those Christians who had already been given new birth in Baptism. A number of scholars have developed the following rationale for the connection between baptism and confirmation: “In baptism the Holy Spirit operates from outside to convey pardon and new birth; in confirmation the gift of the indwelling Spirit is bestowed.”

From late 13th century through the 1970s, Communion was limited to those who were confirmed. In the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, that practice changed as the Church returned to its Christian roots by viewing baptism as the primary basis for entrance into the Christian life with all of its privileges and responsibilities. Confirmation, however, continues to be a central part of the regular renewal of faith.

Over the years, I have found the role of the congregation especially important for two reasons. The first is that those being baptized or confirmed value the support of the people who join with them in worship. The second is that the renewal of our own baptismal vows strengthens us for service in the world.

I hope you will come on May 12.

Faithfully,
The Reverend Edward O. Miller, Jr.

Holy Week Cornerstone

Dear People of Trinity Church,

The Holy Week story is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Each year in its retelling from Palm Sunday through Easter, we stand on the outskirts of Jerusalem as Jesus enters the city, observe his trial, share in the Last Supper, witness his crucifixion, and join the women three days later at the empty tomb. The closing days of the life of Jesus, his crucifixion, and his resurrection describe the sacred story of salvation in the unfolding of human life. Those who were part of the story of Jesus revealed some of the most despicable and some of the most courageous qualities of human relationships. Loyalty and betrayal, determination and indifference, honesty and deception all take root in the drama.

So much of Christian theology can seem abstract and devoid of connection with daily life. The Holy Week story reminds us, however, that there is nothing abstract about the life of Jesus. His story becomes in small and large ways our story as well. The services on Palm Sunday (also known as the Sunday of the Passion), Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are designed to draw us into the story. Thankfully, the story is less about human weakness and more about divine strength. What had been proclaimed generation after generation is revealed in the God who acts as promised by being present in any and every place we find ourselves. Hope arises from real life and from God who makes life real. I hope you will dare to be in the story so that God’s story can truly be ours. Please join us for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.

Faithfully,
The Reverend Edward O. Miller, Jr.

Emphasis on Seasons

Dear People of Trinity Church,

One of the great features of the church calendar is the emphasis on seasons which complement key days. The season of Lent builds toward Easter just as the season of Advent leads to Christmas. The seasons were developed less to serve the needs of the church and more to serve the needs of the people. For this reason, Lent is not so much a means of maintaining discipline among church members by insisting on “prayer, fasting, and self-denial,” in the words of the Book of Common Prayer. On the contrary, Lent is a seasonal chance for people, through “prayer, fasting, and self-denial,” to gather ourselves together both in community and individually. The purpose is to collect ourselves that we might find the center of life. We engage in activities that help us reflect on the daily responsibilities that consume our time, energy, and resources. The Gospel passages from Luke help. Each Sunday Jesus engages the people he encounters in refining how they live and what truly matters.

Among what matters at Trinity Church is the role children play in our congregation. Thanks to volunteers, we are able to offer Sunday school for ten Sundays beginning with the First Sunday in Lent, March 10. The program, from 9:30-10:15 will be in three groupings: Nursery, Pre-K through 2nd grade, and 3rd through 5th grades. More specific details will be available weekly in the eGenesis. In the meantime, I hope you will encourage any children in your families or among friends to come.

Finally, the process for seeking a new Rector matters. With the Discernment Committee now formed, we commission them this Sunday with prayers for them and for the parish at both services. The Committee is task oriented, but its success will ultimately base its grounding in prayer. Please join us this Sunday as our prayers for this process begins.

I look forward to Lent with you.

Faithfully,
The Reverend Edward O. Miller, Jr.

From The Interim Rector

Dear People of Trinity Church,

Someone asked me recently how the size of Trinity Church compared to the size of other churches I have served. As I thought later about the question, I realized that I have always thought more about possibilities than sizes. Each church has been different in many respects – size, type of location, demographics, age, and history. Two have been named Trinity. In the short time I have been Interim Rector, possibilities have already emerged, and your energy to explore possibilities is striking. I have heard of your interest in expanding visual arts in addition to the artistic beauty of the buildings and music. There is renewed interest in ministries for and among children and youth as well as adults. There is conversation about more outreach engagement. During this interim period, we will explore possibilities as we can while the search for a new Rector helps us discern the possibilities that are most important.

While it is important to develop programs and discern the qualities of a new Rector it is even more crucial to be attentive to God’s many ways of envisioning possibilities. Always ahead of the people by leading in the “pillar of cloud by day and fire by night” and always beside the people with Jesus calming those in the boat in a storm or encouraging them to put down their nets deeper, God’s active engagement never lets the status quo immobilize those who yearned for greater purpose. As the season of Epiphany continues, I hope we will continue to give thanks to God for bringing us this far and for staying ahead of us in a future filled with possibilities for discipleship and ministry.

To help us with the discernment process for possibilities for the future with a new rector, we welcome the Reverend Dr. Mary Thorpe, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Virginia, on Sunday, February 10. She will be at both services to preach and will lead a discussion about the discernment process at a Forum between the services.

Faithfully,
The Reverend Edward O. Miller, Jr.